Notes on To Kill a Mockingbird Themes

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To Kill a Mockingbird Topic Tracking: Courage

Topic Tracking: Courage

Chapter 1

Courage 1: The truest challenge to anyone's courage is the Radley place. Dill made a bet with Jem that challenged Jem's courage. Rather than look like a coward, Jem took the bet to touch the Radley house although he was really scared to do it. He couldn't allow Dill and Scout to think him a coward because his courage was a source of pride.

Chapter 2

Courage 2: When Scout popped out of the tire, there was no time for courage. She realized she was in the Radley yard and Jem was screaming at her to get out of there. Although she was afraid, the most disconcerting aspect of the event was that someone inside the Radley house was laughing. When Jem accused her of turning into a girl because she ran so fast that she forgot the tire, she didn't tell him what she'd heard' although that would have more than made up for her forgetful and hasty escape from the Radley yard. She didn't even explain to Jem and Dill that that was the reason she didn't want to play the morbid Boo Radley game any more. She just let them go on thinking she was a chicken.

Chapter 6

Courage 3: Curiosity finally got the better of Dill and Jem, and it created in them the courage to sneak up to the Radley house to peer in the windows until they got caught and had to run away.

Courage 4: Curiosity wasn't the only thing that bred courage. Because Jem didn't want to disappoint Atticus, he was forced to go back to the Radley place to retrieve his pants so that he wouldn't have to explain where he'd lost them. Although he knew it was dangerous and he was scared to go, Jem went to the Radley place because the courage to go there was easier to summon than the courage to face Atticus and tell him that Jem had flat-out disobeyed him.

Chapter 10

Courage 5: Atticus showed his children that he was a courageous man when he stepped into the street to face down a rabid dog. Although he didn't consider the act particularly courageous and was completely uninterested in proving anything to his children, Jem and Scout were proud of, and impressed by, his courage in such a precarious situation. But shooting something wasn't really Atticus' idea of courage. He viewed courage on a more intellectual level, as a moral thing, not as something that can be proved with a weapon.

Chapter 11

Courage 6: Scout wasn't really sure what got into Jem to make him so bold as to destroy Mrs. Dubose's camellias when it was a well-known rumor that she was armed with a Confederate pistol at all times. Although Jem was familiar with the rumor, his rage pushed him beyond caring that he might be hurt or get into trouble because Mrs. Dubose had bad-mouthed Atticus, and Jem just couldn't take it. His fury made him bold enough to wreak havoc in her yard with little regard for the consequences.

Courage 7: Atticus uses Mrs. Dubose as an example of true courage to show Jem that courage isn't a man with a gun, but someone who fights for what's right whether he or she wins or not.

Chapter 15

Courage 8: Atticus went to the jailhouse to protect Tom Robinson from the mob he knew was coming for him. Although he was alone against several men, Atticus held his ground until his children showed up. Only then did Atticus seem truly afraid because they were in danger. He'd expected to get roughed up a little in the struggle to protect Tom Robinson, but he never imagined that his children would be in the way. That's when his courage failed him, but Scout's complete innocence saved them all.

Chapter 23

Courage 9: Atticus was unaffected by Bob Ewell's threat because he didn't believe the man would make good on it. He refused to fight or arm himself against Ewell although Jem and Scout requested it. He believed that once Ewell had threatened him in public, he'd satisfied his vengeance. Unfortunately Atticus was wrong.

Chapter 30

Courage 10: Heck Tate finally stepped out of the shadows and did the right thing. He hadn't been able to do it in the Tom Robinson case, but this time he refused to lie down and let an injustice occur. Although he had to lie to protect Boo Radley, he knew that keeping his role in Bob Ewell's death a secret was the right thing to do, and he did it.

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